I sometimes wonder if John Fox is psychic. I will get to that in a moment. The bad news for the Denver Broncos is that starting defensive tackle Ty Warren is yet again injured with a triceps tear. The worse news is that his 2012 NFL season is effectively over. While this certainly diminishes the strength and the depth of the defensive line of the Broncos, I don't think that this will hurt them a great deal as the season progresses.
First of all, it's not in any way a surprise that Warren is injured. He's missed the past two seasons because of injuries, and this triceps injury is the same thing that knocked him out of the 2011 season. In a way, it's better for the Broncos to have this happen now and not late in the season when his absence on the defensive line would be much more noticeable. It's just very disappointing that the Broncos have waited for him to recover from his previous triceps injury over the past year only to have him injure it again in the first quarter of the first regular season game in which he played.
There is a silver lining to all this, and that's where psychic John Fox comes into play. Fox made defensive tackle a priority this offseason by spending the first Broncos' draft pick on defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. Wolfe has so far turned out to be an excellent pick. The Broncos were so pleased with Wolfe that they actually turned him into a starter by moving him to defensive end when a spot opened up due to injury. Wolfe has so far rewarded the Broncos with a sack and three solo tackles in his first regular season game. Had the Broncos gone with a different position (secondary was also a big need) and taken a lesser defensive tackle later in the draft, they would be in quite the pickle right now.
Backup defensive lineman Mitch Unrein seemed to do an outstanding job in taking Warren's place on Sunday night and he could get the starting nod now. Unrein is a massive 6-4", 291 lb monster who was picked up by the Broncos after not being drafted after his career finished at Wyoming. He's currently in his third year and would have certainly seen plenty of snaps per game this season had Warren not gotten injured. In fact, Wolfe gave a lot of credit for the one sack he did get to Unrein. He lauded Unrein for his effort in occupying more of the offensive line so that Wolfe could slip through to get after the highly elusive Ben Roethlisberger.
Yes, Warren's injury is sad and disappointing, but it's not a serious blow to the Broncos at this point in the season. This will simply force some of the younger players to develop a little faster, and it will ultimately give the line a faster, more athletic look. It will also put even more pressure on the rookie Wolfe to perform, but somehow I have a feeling that he is more than up to the task.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor who writes about the Denver Broncos for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong football fan, she began to follow the Broncos upon moving to Colorado in 2001.
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